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Collector's Guide to Miniature Food Related Items

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Miniatures are widely represented in a range of food related collectibles. Candy dispensers, candy toys, chopstick rests, food sample containers and promotional items are found in a wide range of prices.

As with all forms of collectibles, collect what you love, learn the unique identifying marks of your field, the condition of your items, and how to conseve and care for them.

1. Miniature Food Samples

Miniature Pepsi, Melon liqur and Heinz Ketchup bottles
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Many companies introduce new products first with free samples or miniatures of larger packaging. Some of these samples will become collectibles, especially if the product does not last, or if the containers are unique.

Key points to consider for collecting are completeness (is the sample still inside), is all labelling intact, and is the container an unusual shape or size.

There are several collectible societies for miniature bottles and museums which feature food product introductions.

Traded Primarily online or via antique dealers

Value Depends on unique container features, size, and sample condition.

Price $5 - $100.

2. Humorous or Trick Food Dispensers

Marbled brown plastic cow toy which milks when pumped and candy dropping sheep.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Trick food dispensers or humorous food related items are available as branded items or as unique dispensers. M&M's, Planter's Peanuts and Coca Cola are three of the most common branded items.

The Tudor Rose cow in the photo dates from the 1940's or earlier, and dispenses milk from it's udder when you pump it's tail. The packaged sheep is a more modern variant which drops jelly beans when it's tail is pumped.

Traded Online and via toy fairs.

Value Depends on age, condition, rarity, and theme.

Price $5 to over $100 depending on age, condition and rarity.

Collectors ClubsPeanut Pals, The Associated Collectors of Planters Peanut and Mr. Peanut Memorabilia

M&M Collector's Club

3. Collectible Miniature Candy Tins

Jaguar car candy tin, trunk shaped candy tin with fairies, and candy tin with a bird theme.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Miniature Collectible Candy Tins are available in a wide variety of shapes, themes and sizes, including collectible village pieces and famous cars. Some companies issue new items in a themed line each year.

Traded New releases from candy lines or stores, older pieces online and through antique dealers.

Value Depends primarily on rarity, condition, brand, theme, detail. Older well colored and shaped tins in good condition are usually the most valuable.

Price $5 – over $100

4. Pez Candy Containers

Pez Snowman and Barney Rubble candy dispensers.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

The Pez candy company are famous for their highly collectible ranges of candy dispensers, which includes bride and groom dispensers, seasonal, and numerous movie themes. Some lines are in production for limited runs, others are classics which are seasonally available.

Pre 1987 Pez containers have square bases but no feet. The date on the head refers to the date for the character, not the container.

Traded Online and via collector's clubs.

Value Depends on rarity, color of stem, color of candy pusher, feet or square base and condition.

Price $5 and up.

Online references Burlingame Pez Museum site has photos of a wide range of pez collectables.

Pez Collector's News

5. Kinder Surprise Egg Toys and Figurines

Kinder Egg collectible candy toy figurines and model cars kits.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Packaged inside a chocolate egg is a two part plastic capsule, which contains either a constructible toy or collectible figurine. These are extremely popular in Canada, Europe and Asia, but U.S. availability is limited.

Every year different items in a range of toy series are issued, larger capsules (with larger toys) are available at Christmas and Easter. Some toys are amazingly detailed with working parts, including pull back motors.

Most toys build larger than the capsule they are contained in.

Traded Online, although they appear at toy fairs and through specialist dealers. New items are available via candy suppliers.

Value Depends on complexity, rarity and condition.

Price Under $5

Collector information Jean Pierre's Kinder Surprise Pages

6. Dollhouse Scale Foods and Re Ment

1:6 scale hot dog and 1:12 scale drinks tray
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Re- Ment foods are 1:6 scale (playscale) accessories for fashion doll play which come in a wide variety of themes, usually ten items per set. They are primarily a widely traded children's collectible produced for the Asian market.

Dollhouse scale food, usually constructed of epoxy resins or polymer clay, is available in all dollhouse scales. Miniature foods based on a bread dough paste or molded china, were common before the advent of polymer clays in the 1970's but are less common now. Developments of polymer clay have led to increasingly realistic food miniatures in the last ten years. Many well known artisans working exclusively in this area.

Traded Shops, fairs and online.

Value Based on detail level and scale

Price $5 - $100

7. Hashi Oki - Chopstick Rests

Miniature ceramic fish chopstick rest.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Sometimes confused with miniature dollhouse food items, china, porcelain, ivory and wood chopstick rests are widely collected items of oriental tableware. Look for strong detailed mold lines in ceramic forms or flowing shapes. Unusual shapes or patterns are the most collectible. Chopstick rests come in many animal, cartoon, and traditional designs.

Traded Oriental markets, Asian antique dealers, online.

Value Depends on age, condition, material and rarity.

Price Various.

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